The recluse writer is an all-too-common stereotype, but it’s a stereotype that we’ve had a hand in creating. To the introvert, there’s something wonderfully appealing about the idea of an introspective job that allows you to huddle up in your own home and choose when and how you want to interact with people. We’re also all guilty of sharing the (more than) occasional quote about avoiding the world and other people (see Exhibit A below).
We often think that introversion and great writing go hand in hand, but the truth is, the idea of the introverted, reclusive writer does more harm than good.
You need real experiences before you can write about them.
There’s a reason the most well-known adage about writing is “write what you know.” Writing about known experiences lends a certain inspiration, intimacy, and realism that is hard to beat. One of my best remembered writer’s tips came from a university class where we were lucky enough to have Kit Pearson give a talk about writing. She recommended mining the lives of your friends and family for inspiration and stories. The unspoken message here is that it’s vitally important to leave the messy writer’s desk and foster relationships with friends and family.
Famously, Vincent Lam (author of Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures) even chose the seemingly unrelated career path of a surgeon to give him something to write about. Thankfully, it worked out in the end.
If that doesn’t convince you of the need to step away from the writer’s desk, here are three more reasons why you should turn off the computer and go outside:
1. It’s the age of authorpreneurship, which means authors need to know how to market themselves.
Nowadays, authors are responsible for a lot more than writing the book. In an oversaturated market, authors need to create their branding, manage professional websites, run multiple social media accounts, build and interact with a readership, organize readings, and manage giveaways and blog tours.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have a professional helping you. But you’ll still need to do the bulk of the work yourself, amd most of this work involves a lot of socializing and interaction.
2. Thoughtless advertising doesn’t work. Authors need to make real connections with their readers.
There are so many people pushing their books on social media and throwing money at advertising without combining it with the thing that really sells books: real connections with readers and word-of-mouth recommendations. When readers feel good about both your book and you as a person, they’ll be more likely to recommend your book to their friends.
3. If you’re planning to self-publish, or are thinking about crowdfunding your first book, you’ll need a solid network to get you started.
Without the backing of a traditional publisher, the best way to break through the rankings on Amazon (or raise funds for your book’s publication) is with an established network to jump start your initial sales. This means, your friends and family, your social clubs, and your online connections.